NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) – Keeping pets healthy, happy and safe are new requirements from the YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee. In the spring, a pet shelter will open at the Weaver Center, the state’s largest emergency domestic violence shelter for women and children.
According to the YWCA, this will be a lifeline. The YWCA reviewed studies that found that nearly half of all domestic violence victims chose to stay in abusive homes because pets had nowhere to go.
“They are the children of the people, and the people put these animals on a pedestal and if an abuser knows that is your weak point, the animal can be used as a tool to control you in an abusive relationship,” said Sharon Roberson, President and CEO of the YWCA.
The YWCA has heard victims on the crisis line say that choosing to leave a home when a pet is there is extremely difficult.
âNo one wants to leave part of their family behind when they seek shelter,â Roberson said.
Mothers struggle even more with this decision.
âIt’s just one more emotional decision you have to make and it may be enough to keep you going,â said Rusty Burdge, a domestic violence survivor.
Twelve years ago, Burdge went to the Weaver Center with her three children, but without their gerbil and dog. The conversation she had with her children was difficult.
“It’s like saying ‘we can take you, but not your brother’ or ‘guys, we have to leave your best friend to be safe.’ The kids don’t understand that right now, âBurdge said.
Construction on the new pet shelter will begin in January.
âIf you’re in a situation that doesn’t make you safe, that’s one less concern you need to have because it’s a good place, it’s a safe place,â Burdge said.
According to the YWCA, Amazon provided the final funding which was a donation of $ 156,000.